Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Bristol Bay...continued

If you are interested in the campaign I would recommend that you take a look at the article in the latest edition of National Geographic Magazine.

Click on the following link:

The photo above shows some of the most jaw dropping wilderness spawning habitat you are ever likely to see. A web of interconnected rivers, lakes, and streams characterizes the Bristol Bay region. Here the Igushik River snakes through the tundra of Togiak National Wildlife Refuge.
If you are a 'Habitat Junkie' like me...this is the ultimate fix!
To loose it would be a catastrophe beyond description.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Saving Bristol Bay

Many of you will not have heard of Bristol Bay in Alaska. Well its safe to say that is probably one of the worlds most important wild salmon fisheries. It is a stunningly beautiful yet fragile wilderness. I am sad to report that it's under threat from the spectre of open cast mining. In a nutshell if this mine goes ahead it will probably destroy one of the worlds most special catchments, its fish, wildlife and the communities that depend upon it.

So why should we be concerned? - Alaska is a very long way from the UK. For me it's simply about just knowing that places like Bristol Bay exist. I may never visit Bristol Bay but I just want to be able to offer the opportunity perhaps for my kids and their kids to have the continuing chance to visit these special places. (I just hope they take me along!)

Open Cast mining is hugely damaging and despite what the industry would have us believe, there has never been a mine of the scale proposed that has not caused widespread and irreversible environment damage...period!

You can help this campaign by visiting

I have taken the step of sending an email to the State Governor of Alaska to voice my concerns. Some may view this a token gesture. However if the Alaskan Government knows the eyes of the world are on this campaign it may just go someway to influence the decision makers. And if the boot was on the other foot we would be glad of support from Alaska!

Someone once said "they ain't making rivers anymore" in the case of Bristol Bay I would expand on this and say "they ain't making ecosystems anymore!"

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Blueprint for Water

If you care about how much wet stuff flows down our rivers then please let me draw your attention to the recently re-launched 'Blueprint for Water'.

Water is our most precious natural resource. It is vital to people’s health and happiness, vital for the environment and our wildlife, and vital to our economy. But this most precious asset is in crisis. That is why in 2006 a coalition of leading environmental organisations, launched the Blueprint for Water, setting out 10 steps to sustainable water.

Four years on, during the International Year of Biodiversity, our rivers, lakes and ponds remain our most threatened habitats; targets for restoration and creation of wetlands remain unmet; and River Basin Management Plans promise just 5% improvement by 2015.

Here are the 10 steps to sustainable water by 2015

Waste less water Reduce water consumption by at least 20% through more efficient use in homes, buildings and businesses

Keep our rivers flowing and wetlands wet Reform abstraction licensing to reduce pressure on rivers, lakes and wetlands today and increase flexibility to adapt to future climate change

Price water fairly Make household water bills reflect the amount of water people use

Make polluters pay Make those who damage the water environment bear the costs through more effective law enforcement, tougher penalties and fairer charges

Stop pollutants contaminating our water Introduce targeted regulations to reduce harmful pollutants in water

Keep sewage out of homes and rivers and off beaches Upgrade the sewage system to reduce discharges of sewage into urban environments and ecologically sensitive areas

Support water-friendly farming Reward farmers who deliver healthy rivers, lakes, ponds and wetlands, and provide a range of other benefits to society

Slow, manage and clean drainage from roads and buildings Create a modern urban drainage network that can mitigate surface water flooding and trap pollution

Protect and restore catchments from source to sea Regenerate rivers, lakes and wetlands in partnership with local communities

Retain water on floodplains and wetlands Restore large areas of wetland and floodplain to create vital wildlife habitats, improve water quality and quantity, and reduce urban flooding
You can download the Blueprint at:
A book I'm reading on catchment conservation in the USA contained a local residents comment at a public consultation on water resource planning.
"Why don't we take all this money we are spending on regulation and pay farmers to have wild fish in our rivers? We could do it!"
Difficult logic to argue against...isn't it?!

Monday, 15 November 2010

Taking the Initiative on Invasives

Eden Rivers Trust is launching a new initiative in the Eden Valley to take action against invasive alien species. This will mobilise all interested parties in a coordinated plan of attack, to stop the spread of unwanted species already here and prevent the introduction of others not yet arrived.

The first step is to get the relevant people and organisations together, to find out the extent of the problem, and to discuss possible ways of tackling it. This will take place at an event on Thursday 2nd December 2010 in Newbiggin Hall, Newbiggin, near Stainton from 10am to 1pm.

Eden Rivers Trust would like anyone interested to come along to this event and get involved. They want to gather local knowledge on the location and extent of invasive species along the River Eden and its tributaries. They also want to hear about any action already taking place, and suggestions about the best way forward.

The aim is to create an Eden Invasive Species Group which will identify invasive species in the River Eden catchment, prioritize future control, and co-ordinate the work that is already being done.

This event is the start of a coordinated approach to tackling invasive species in the Eden Valley. We hope as many people as possible will come along to share their knowledge and ideas on how to keep out or get rid of these unwanted animals and plants.

To book your place, please contact me on tel. no. 01768 866788 or email, so that we have an idea of the number of people attending.

Himalayan Balsam, Japanese Knotweed and Giant Hogweed are the three plants causing most concern at present. These occur particularly along river banks and all have negative impacts on the local wildlife, as well as on farming and recreation. Himalayan balsam, for example, smothers our native riverside plants, dies back in winter and leaves banks bare and vulnerable to erosion. Japanese knotweed is extremely vigorous and rapidly takes over vast areas, growing through tarmac, concrete and drains. Giant Hogweed is a health hazard because it contains toxic sap which can cause severe burns.

Other invasive species of concern include American signal crayfish and a parasite of fish called Gyrodactylus salaris. Neither of these are currently found in the Eden catchment but could arrive at any time and be disastrous for the local environment and economy.

American signal crayfish occur in all the counties surrounding Cumbria and they and the disease they carry, crayfish plague, are lethal to the native white-clawed crayfish, which has one of its last strongholds in the county.

Local fish populations are at risk from the invasive parasite called Gyrodactylus salaries, which is found in Scandinavia and other parts of Europe. It causes a serious fish disease called Gyrodactylosis which infects the skin, gills and fins of salmon, trout and some other species of freshwater fish. This disease is one of the biggest threats to the wild salmon population in the UK and has the potential to cause widespread losses in the UK’s valuable stocks of both wild and farmed freshwater Atlantic salmon. If introduced here it would be difficult to eradicate because of the very diverse nature of our river ecosystems.

To stop the spread of crayfish plague and Gyrodactylus, it is essential to ensure that any equipment such as boats, fishing nets, waders, etc used on rivers and other water bodies is thoroughly dried and disinfected before it is used again. These diseases can easily be spread via tiny spores carried on wet gear, especially felt-soled waders as they rarely dry out completely.

Eden Rivers Trust is also working with the county-wide coordinator of the Cumbria Freshwater Invasive Non-native Species (FINNS) Initiative (visit for more details). This will ensure that all those involve in invasive species will learn from each others’ experiences and there will be a coordinated approach across the county. For more information on non-native invasive species visit

If you would like to come along to Eden Rivers Trust’s event on the 2nd December please book your place by contacting Eden Rivers Trust on 01768 866788 or email

Monday, 25 October 2010

Grayling are go!

The Eden Grayling season is now well underway, with some very good catches already reported on the lower river. I fished last week and despite very windy conditions, managed to winkle some very good quality fish to both Duo Rig and Klink n Dink. The cold weather will possibly slow things down a bit but a few days of settled high pressure should see things come good again.

Flies are very much a personal choice - however any shrimp patterns dubbed with Sow Scud seem to work very well for me.

A small tungsten nymph suspended under a big Klinkhammer also works very well in nice pacy but steady runs. Green dubbing with a copper head has been good to me...but what do I know!?

You can access some very good and affordable grayling fishing through our Go Wild Scheme

Go on give it go before the Winter sets in!

Three Awards.....In A Week!

Eden Rivers Trust has scooped three awards in the space of a week for its conservation, education and communication work.

The first of these was the Wild Trout Trust and Orvis 2010 Conservation Awards. These Conservation Awards recognise and encourage excellence in the management and conservation of wild trout habitat, celebrating the efforts, skills and ingenuity of projects carried out both by professionals and by grass roots voluntary organisations.
Eden Rivers Trust were the winners of the Professional Category for their Trout Stream Project in the Eden catchment, addressing point source & diffuse pollution, bank-side damage by animal stock, barriers to migration and poor habitat and fish recruitment. This used a wide range of techniques to develop costed and prioritised plans to get the best improvements to habitat for the resources expended.

Judge and Trustee of the Wild Trout Trust, Dr Allan Frake, said, “The competition always attracts habitat management projects at various levels that are carried out by a plethora of differing individuals and organisations. This year’s finalists ranged from those costing hundreds of thousands of pounds to one which virtually cost nothing apart from some oil and petrol for the chain saw! The judges were particularly enthused this year to see projects where a considerable amount of soul searching had gone on to ensure that the work to improve habitat was carefully thought through, evaluated, and decisions based on quality survey data, sound scientific principles and a healthy dose of pragmatism”.

The second award was for Becky Helm, Education Officer for Eden Rivers Trust, in the 2010 Association of Rivers Trusts Awards. These are open to individuals or organisations covering scientific achievement, environmental achievement, volunteer effort or outstanding contribution to the Rivers Trust movement.

Becky Helm won the award for “Outstanding contribution to the Rivers Trust movement” for her role as Education Officer for the past 5 years. In this time she has worked with over 10,000 people including 5500 school children from 50 different schools, 200 adults in higher education, and 5000 members of the general public.

She was instrumental in the successful delivery of Eden Rivers Trust‘s 1.2million Heritage Lottery funded Discover Eden project. She has instigated and implemented many other projects including Rivers Days for schools, the Wetland Discovery Trail, Rivers in the Classroom, the River Rover Mobile Lab, the River Fly Anglers Monitoring Initiative and Mayfly in the Classroom. She has also been involved in community river clean-ups, trainee teacher and work experience placements, local shows, volunteer events and talks for local community groups. All of these have and continue to benefit from her huge enthusiasm, wealth of knowledge and dedicated efforts (including many an evening and weekend). Her skill for successfully combining rivers and the outdoors with education and learning continues to impress.

Becky’s vital work has not only helped to raise awareness about our rivers, and encourage the next generation to learn about their environment and take care of it, but it has also made a huge personal difference to the many people she has worked with. Each year several of the young people Becky first worked with at a school or event have returned to ERT as volunteers.

The third award came from the North West Business Environment Awards, presented at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester. The Trust was runner-up in the Environmental Champions (Media and Communications) category. This was for its successful communications campaign to raise awareness about the importance and beauty of the River Eden and to conserve and protect the local wildlife, including the endangered white-clawed crayfish.

The judges’ comments on Eden Rivers Trust’s entry included the following:

“The campaign has drawn on a range of different channels to communicate to its target audiences”.

“The active involvement of so many local school children and members of the community in the campaign is to be commended, and as an educational process it has been outstanding”.

“Evidence of a large quantity of sustained, ‘on message’ media coverage, covering the topic from all angles”.

Todd Holden, director of the ENWORKS environmental business support partnership which hosted this year’s awards, said: “The event was a real success and it looks like everyone enjoyed the occasion. I’d like to congratulate our winners and runners-up who are all deserving of widespread recognition and applause for their contribution towards paving the way for a more sustainable future.”

We are delighted to have received all three of these awards, in recognition of the invaluable conservation, education and communication work we carry out regarding the wonderful River Eden. I would like to congratulate and thank all the team at Eden Rivers Trust for their unfailing dedication, professionalism and enthusiasm in all they do. These awards are a justified reflection of their hard work.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Woody Debris

This is is not my favourite blues guitarist but the scientific term for fallen branches and trees in a river.

Large Woody Debris (or LWD, generally defined as timber greater than 0.1m in diameter and 1.0m in length) is a vital natural component of all rivers. However, due to human intervention over the millennia, it is now largely absent from many river systems. Traditional river management has included a presumption for the removal of LWD, on the grounds that it restricts angling access, collects debris around it andcould pose a risk of flooding. Many fishery interests have also had concerns that LWD can adversely restrict the upstream migration of pre-spawning salmonids.

However, more recently, research has shown that LWD is fundamental to many river processes, which are of direct and indirect importance to trout, with its influence particularly strong in headwaters. LWD causes localised changes in water velocity, with consequent downstream scouring of gravel substrate, improving its quality for spawning salmonids and some fast water loving coarse fish species. The lower water velocity occasioned upstream and within LWD bundles results in the detention of fine sediment in marginal zones where it can become colonised by emergent vegetation. The increased variability of water velocity also results in significant changes to the river’s water depth and width. Similarly, leaf litter tends to accumulate in and around LWD, providing an important food reserve for 'shredding' macroinvertebrates. LWD also provides shelter for a range of invertebrate and fish species, and reduces water temperature by shading.

Accumulations of LWD can cause the formation of so-called 'woody debris dams'. These can become remarkably stable, with some examples lasting for years. These can have particular value in riverine systems, becoming important structural features in their own right. However, careful monitoring of extensive woody debris dams is important.Although concerns regarding their impact on migrating fish are generally not well founded, in extreme circumstances, they can totally occlude channels, preventing access to spawning areas for brown trout and salmon.
In these unusual circumstances, it is usually possible to carefully remove a small section
of the dam, re-establishing a passage for fish.

So all in all wood is good for trout!

As part of ERTs Petteril Project we have formed a technical partnership with the conservation charity, the Wild Trout Trust to select and introduce LWD at a number of sites along the river. As I speak Tim Jacklin and Paul Gaskell (WTT) and Alison Reed (ERT) are busy with their chainsaws, creating much needed habitat on this once iconic trout stream. The support and guidance from WTT has been invaluable and anyone considering restoring a trout stream should contact them. Their advice and assistance is free and will ensure your project gets off the best possible start. see for more details.
Photo: Copyright Natural England

Monday, 27 September 2010

An Invitation

Eden Rivers Trust
invites you to our Winter 2010
Fisheries Seminar
(replacing the ERT Fisheries Advisory Committee)
Wednesday 20th October 2010
6:30 to 10:00pm
Cliburn Village Hall, Penrith


6:30 to 7:00 Arrival and refreshments
7:00 to 7:20 Eden Rivers Trust—Roundup of 2010 work
7:25 to 8:20 Guest Speaker:
Dr Peter Hutchinson. NASCO
(North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation)
SALSEA – unravelling the mysteries of the salmon’s life at sea’
An introduction to the exciting and innovative work being undertaken by NASCO and partners to improve understanding of and survival during the salmon’s life at sea.
8:20 to 8:50 Break, refreshments and a chance to buy raffle tickets
8:50 to 9:10 Environment Agency (Penrith Fisheries Team) - An Eden Update
9:15 to 9:25 Guest Speaker:
Kenny Galt. The Tweed Foundation TBC
The Trout and Grayling Initiative and Riverfly Monitoring
9:30 to 9:40 Eden Rivers Trust—Look ahead and Raffle Draw

There will be a raffle with suitably fishy prizes and refreshments (soft drinks and bottled beers) provided by the Tufton Arms Hotel in Appleby, with all proceeds going to ERT.
Directions: As you come into Cliburn village from Penrith, the hall is on the right hand side. If you reach the Golden Pheasant you’ve gone too far!

Click Here for Google map

All welcome, but places are limited to 100 so please let us know if you’re coming along: call 01768 866 788 or email
Car parking is limited so do please car-share where possible!

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Scores on the Doors...

On behalf of the Chairman and the board of trustees of ERT I am posting this blog to thank everyone who has supported the 2010 Auction....our first!

The combined total of both main and silent auctions was a staggering £52,000!

This would not have been possible if it were not for the very kind and unfaltering support of a large number of sponsors, volunteers, donors and bidders. In these austere times I cannot overstate importance of this income and the positive impact it will have on both our conservation and educational activities.

As we move forward into uncertain economic times, life for small charities like ERT will become ever more challenging. However, we have clarity and purpose, sound governance, robust financial management systems and a great team of staff and volunteers. Most importantly we have fantastic record of delivering excellent conservation projects all of which are underpinned by the use of sound and practical science. These attributes, coupled with your support place ERT in a strong position to both meet these challenges head-on and to seize upon the as yet unknown opportunities that will undoubtedly manifest themselves as new and exciting vistas open up before us.

Once again thank you to everyone concerned for your support. It is hugely appreciated and never taken for granted.

Monday, 13 September 2010

The Clock is Ticking....

Just a quick reminder that the deadline for postal and fax bids for ERT's fundraising auction is Saturday, mid-day.

We have some fantastic lots and the bids are now starting to arrive. This is a great chance to spoil yourself and support ERT at the same time.

Go on....have a bid!

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Blisters...but they were worth it!

I am very pleased to report that I managed to complete the 80 mile 'Source to Sea' walk along the Eden. My short legs aren't really designed for walking and as such I found the first two days pretty hard going. Getting out of bed each morning was a challenge that somewhat reminded me of the lengthy process of firing-up the engines of an old WW2 Dakota, I onced witnessed. Lots of heaving, pulling, straining, coughing, swearing, moaning and stretching before finally spluttering into something resembling life......

The walk and the excellent ERT staff, guests, landowners and volunteers we met along the way were stimulating and inspiring. I feel very privileged to have walked 'my river' in it's entirety. I would thoroughly recommend it, however my advice would be to perhaps undertake it at a more sedate pace!

Highlights for me were too numerous to list but the first mornings walk down from Hell Gill to Kirby Stephen was very special indeed. During the four days we showed Rory Stewart many aspects of our work from electric fishing, crayfish surveying, habitat restoration, farm conservation advice, invasive species management through to our research and education based activities. To have four days with your local MP is an opportunity not to be squandered and in Rory's words it was "a wonderful four days. I learnt an enormous amount from the ERT team and I will remember it forever"

To date we have raised about £900, which is a little disappointing considering the pain I had to endure. But the success of the endeavour should not be measured in fiscal terms alone. The wide-ranging PR the walk received has ensured that awareness of the ERT brand continues to grow, and in these tough economic times...that is priceless!

If you would consider a donation - its not too late. This can be dome via our Just Giving website :

Just click and donate. Easy....unlike the walk!

Now what should be my challenge next year......?

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

ERT Auction Goes Live!

We invite you to participate in our 2010 charity auction.

Auction bids can be accepted from 1st September running through to a grand finale at a fundraising dinner at Naworth Castle on the evening of 18th September. The highest bidder for each lot at the end of the auction on 18th September 2010 will be deemed the winner of that lot.

Download the ERT 2010 Auction catalogue here

Postal/Fax bids

We can accept postal and faxed bids which we will place on your behalf if you are not attending the fundraising dinner on 18th September. Postal / fax bids for identical amounts will be placed in the order received. Such bids should reach the ERT office no later than midday on 18th September. Postal address: Eden Rivers Trust, Units O&Q, Skirsgill Business Park, Penrith, CA11 0FA or fax: 01768 866700

Successful bidders

The ERT will contact you to arrange payment of the winning price by cheque or bank transfer. The ERT will also put you in contact with the donor of the lot so you can arrange the details upon clearance of funds.

I am delighted to make public a copy of ERT’s 2010 auction catalogue – our first ever!

Contained within its pages are 47 exciting lots, many of which are rarely available. Full details of how bids can be submitted and terms and conditions are on page 3 of the catalogue.

The current economic climate has created a challenging fundraising environment for charitable trusts. We hope that all those taking part in the bidding will do so generously and in the true spirit of a charitable auction!

If you are lucky enough to be winning bidder you will be in a real ‘win-win’ situation, as not only do you get to obtain some fantastic lots but you’ll also be able to take great pride in the knowledge that you are supporting the important conservation work of ERT.

Lastly, ERT would like to make special mention of the many supporters, sponsors and partner organisations that have so generously donated lots for this year’s auction. Without their continued and unfaltering support the auction and the work of trust would not be possible.

If you have any questions or queries regarding the auction please do not hesitate to contact me at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Thank you for your support and good luck with your bidding!"

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Steve Henson

I've just received the shock news of the untimely death of one of my old colleagues from Norfolk, Steve Henson.

Steve will not be known to most but I am deeply saddened at this loss. I worked on numerous ground breaking projects with Steve over the years - from mink and voles through to Fisheries Action Plans and River Restoration. We were also at the same University together (UEA - the best!). Steve went on to work for Norfolk Wildlife Trust and I the National Rivers Authority. Most unusually for someone with that background he could see the contribution that fishing and fisheries could make to improving local biodiversity. Our paths crossed regularly and I totalled up at least 6 major projects going back to 1998 we have both worked on. He always offered very pragmatic advice and was willing to lend a hand when required. I still remember marking out a restoration site at Holkham on the River Stiffkey, with garden canes and electrical tape!, which summed up his approach...practical advice and assistance!

Both myself and Steve went onto sit on the committee of the River Glaven Conservation Group and whilst my contribution was minor, I think it is safe to say that Steve's was impressive. Without him I think the Group would have struggled to achieve what they have.

The above picture is of both myself and Steve jetting spawning riffles on the Glaven at Thornage in Norfolk. I will remember him as considered, cheerful, positive and always willing to roll his sleeves up for the task in hand.

Although I haven't seen Steve for about two years I feel terribly saddened by his passing. My heart goes out to his wife,family and colleagues.


We have now started our programme of Knotweed control on the
River Eamont SAC.

At this very moment, the Japanese Knotweed Solutions team (pictured above..sorry guys I couldn't resist!) are on the banks of the river cutting, spraying and finally incinerating (hence the Ken Dodd link) this most unwelcome intruder. The Knotweed problem on the Eamont is in it's early stages and we really hope that this 'stitch in time' solution will save an awful lot of effort and resource in the future. The situation will be closely monitored over the next five years.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Click & Donate!

We have now set-up a Just Giving webpage which is a totally secure way of donating on-line. The link will take you to the Source to Sea Fundraising Walk Page.

All you have to do is click and easy is that!

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Source to Sea Fundraising Walk

On 1st September Rory Stewart, MP for Penrith and the Border and yours truly will commence a fundraising walk along the entire length of the River Eden. The 80+ mile walk, lasting four days will raise funds for Eden Rivers Trusts conservation and education projects. A dawn start sees in day one on the 1st September at Mallerstang, the source of the Eden. Over the ensuing four days friends, family and supporters will join us each day as we make their way towards finish at the Solway Firth.

The walk is split into four sections (to be confirmed) and will be conducted on a mixture of footpaths, bridleways, quiet lanes and private land, where permission has been granted.

• Day 1 – Mallerstang – Appleby
• Day 2 – Appleby – Penrith
• Day 3 – Penrith – Wetheral
• Day 4 – Wetheral – Solway Firth

During the walk I will be introducing Rory first-hand to some of the key issues that affect the wildlife, ecology of the river. The itinerary will take-in in some ‘hands-on’ ERT conservation tasks, including a survey to hunt for the internationally rare White Clawed Crayfish and a to get ‘down and dirty’ at local community river clean-up event!

The walk will also focus on meeting members of the community who rely on a healthy river environment river to support recreational and economic purposes.

We are aiming to raise as much money as possible to support ERT’s environmental education initiative, ‘Rivers in the Classroom’ which to date has worked with nearly 5000 school children up and down river valley.

Our fundraising target is £10,000.

I am really excited to be undertaking this fundraising walk with Rory. The walk not only offers a special opportunity to see a river in its entirety but also for Rory to learn firsthand about some of the major issues affecting the wildlife, ecology and people of this truly iconic river.”

Rory Stewart said: “I have been looking forward to this walk for months. It will come at the end of a Summer that, for me, has been made memorable by the people of Penrith and the Border and the landscape they inhabit; these are the two constants that make this constituency so special. It seems fitting to end my first Summer as an MP walking the length of this extraordinary river; 80 miles long, with 184 different species of plants and flowing through the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales National Parks, the North Pennines, the Solway Coast AONB, and the World Heritage Site of Hadrian's Wall. This is arguably the jewel in our crown, and it will be a great privilege to meet the people along the way who - as I am - are proud to speak of the Eden Valley as their home. With Simon's help I hope to raise awareness of its importance, and funds to contribute to its longer-term survival, and look forward to welcoming anyone who would like to join us on the walk."

If you would like to make a donation please contact Eden Rivers Trust on 01768 866788or

After last years Coast to Coast Mountain Bike Challenge - I swore I would never do another charity fundraiser........I must be mad...but it is for a very good cause!

Monday, 12 July 2010

I 'CAN' stand the rain........

Well..... we have had some rain at last...but not nearly enough!

Levels on the rivers and major lakes in the catchment have risen by a few inches or so. We now have a hosepipe ban in place and are being asked to conserve water wherever we can.

This is all well and good but my major worry is that drought events are likely occur more often and with increased severity. If we accept this 'climate change scenario' surely we should be having a serious debate about long-term water usage and conservation. We have now reached a point in time where reactive measure are simply not good enough and we must be taking a long term view on the sustainability of supplies for both private and business users. It is not simply a case of hitting water companies over the head with a big stick. We are all voracious consumers of a very precious resource that in my opinion we have learnt to take far too much for granted. Some painful and potentially costly decisions may have to be agreed if we want to keep taps running.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Salmon Farming: Our 'Must Win' Campaign

On the way into work this morning it was great to hear Paul Knight from the Salmon & Trout Association raise the impacts of salmon farming up the agenda on prime time Radio Four.

Despite protestations from an 'industry spokesman' I think Paul did a quite brilliant job of getting the key points across in a very understandable and personable style. Paul didn't use any jargon but left listeners in no doubt regarding what is a very desperate situation. I was really delighted that a fishing organisation came across in such a measured and reasoned manner. For so many years this hasn't been the case. If we are to win the 'hearts and minds' of the public this is just the type of strategy we will need. The stakes are high in this debate, but the science is on our side and we must resist the temptation for sensationalism and playground name calling, as has so often happened in the past.

The Atlantic Salmon is one of the most iconic species on the planet. It's migrations are shrouded in mystery and it it sustainably supports ecosytems, food webs, livelihoods and an army of passionate fishermen!

It is this army of passionate fishermen that we need to mobilise and involve in this issue of such wide ranging importance. From a personal point of view I think this is probably one of the most important battles that fishing has to win; if we lose the consequences do not bear thinking about.

My plea is to every fisherman (no matter what their persuasion, coarse, game, sea) to get behind the S&TA and this campaign of international significance. Perhaps this campaign has the potential to 'unify' angling in a way that up until now we have failed to achieve?

But here also lies angling's Achilles heel.......Apathy. So angling (guided by the S&TA) must seize the opportunity to mount an 'en-masse' a campaign targeted at decision makers and the public regarding just how passionately we feel about this issue. If we do not take a untited stand we may just as well switch the lights off and go fish the stock pond.

Make no mistake salmon farming has some powerful and influential friends, some of whom are perhaps closer to angling than you would think. We need to get the groundswell of public opinion behind will be our most powerful weapon in the fight to get salmon farming onto a more sustainable footing.

I do not want to see and end of salmon aquaculture in this country - my aspirations are see a sustainable industry that can support people, the environment and our wonderful migratory fish.

Many people have given up on wild Salmon, but the Pebble Mine Campaign in Bristol Bay, Alaska shows just how powerful a well thought out Grass-Roots campaign can be (see my worth a look links). The pivitol moment in that campaign was the release of the film Red Gold. Anyone who has watched this film cannot have failed to have become very emotional and passionate regarding the need for the stewardship of our precious natural resources. The film has been shown around the world and it has made a huge difference. I have shown it to family,friends and collegues all of whom are non fisher folk...and they get it! They get that salmon migration is one of the great natural wonders of the world and once it is is gone forever.

Our salmon farming campiagn could learn a lot from Trout Unlimied in the States who have superbly co-ordinated the above.

For me this campaign is a place where our hopes and dreams for Atlantic Salmon will live or die.

Lets get behind the S&TA to make sure we achieve the former!

If nothing else sign the S&TA petition to show your support:

Monday, 21 June 2010

Zen and the Art of Fly Fishing!

I have only recently taken to fly tying in the last two seasons. For me it was yet another interest to fill already 'at capacity' cupboards with even more kit!

However over the years I felt something was missing from my fishing. The one component missing was tying imitative fly patterns to match the varying stages of insect life on any given beat and day. Although convenient, shop bought flies are often 'over-dressed' and my personal bug-bear...barbed!

From the start, my strategy has been to...'keep things simple' I have bought good quality materials that fit into a small tool box and spent the absolute minimum on a vice (£11!) I have had some advice from some very good tiers and the owners of Cookshill Flytying, Spiders Plus,Lakeland Flytying and the lads at John Norris. Purchases were made and I set to work...self taught!

To be honest my first few attempts were.......somewhat agricultural. But I just stepped back and simplified things. Some very uncomplicated nymphs were the first to score success on the bank. This was followed by some very, very quick dry flies. tied with a grizzle hackle. The best was to come with a fish well over 4lbs from the Annan to a spinner pattern...again very simple and less than three minutes to tie.

This season I have stepped things up a bit and have started to tie some emergers and some Parachute Adams type patterns. However, if it takes more than 5 minuets to tie, I'm not interested.

We are now well into the 2010 season and this is my first where every fish caught has been on my own flies, including an early season beauty of 3lbs 5oz from the upper river.

Last week I was lucky enough to get out twice on both upper and middle river beats. Despite low water,both of these visits were great fun. But it was the first visit which lasted well into the late evening that was to be my piscatorial 'Zen' moment. I had just managed to catch three fantastic wild trout on a spinner pattern,from a difficult run that necessitated casting off my left shoulder due to heavy foliage behind me.

In the fading light of that summers evening on the banks of a truly wonderful trout river, with the Pennines as my backdrop, I realised there and then that I had finally closed the gap in my personal fly fishing circle.

I felt I had finally made the links between habitat, quarry, technique , fly life and fly tying. It was quite an enlightening moment and one I will savour for the rest of my fishing days. I'm not suggesting I am now some sort of fishing superstar with all the efficiency of a modern trawler.....far from it! However, the increase in my enjoyment and understanding of fly fishing over the last couple of seasons has been nothing short of a revelation to me.

I just hope it lasts for a while!

Thursday, 3 June 2010

How Low Can You Go?

It almost beggars belief that after the winter we have just had that we are now just a few steps away from a drought order being imposed across the North West. United Utilities and the Environment Agency are starting to gear-up in anticipation of a continued lack of meaningful rainfall.

The Eden is low, very low. But despite this there is still some sport to be had for the flyfisher. I have just returned from the lower river this evening where I enjoyed some sport on the dry fly (all tied by my own fair hand!). I did drop two good fish, one was very good. Despite some impressive flylife the fish were reluctant to rise and you had to be quick to cover the odd one that did. If you were millimeter accurate you would get a take. I did see one of my favourite flies on the river today the Yellow May Dun (Heptagenia sulpherea)....I think this is one of our most spectacular upwing flies and I just love it's latin name!
The other big yellow thing on the river was my Labrador (Maximus chaoticus) who has developed an impressive skill in river boulder has to be seen to be believed!

I hope we get some rain soon and that the salmon and sea trout fishing can get going!

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Felt Soled Waders - Update from Alaska

The Alaska Board of Fisheries voted unanimously last week to ban felt-soled waders in Alaska freshwaters effective Jan. 1, 2012, out of concern they could transport invasive aquatic species between water bodies.

Trout Unlimited, a national fisheries conservation group, made the push for the ban, arguing that felt stays wet longer than rubber boots and can carry more sediment.

Felt-soled waders were due to be banned the beginning of 2011 in Southeast, however that change will now occur at a later date.The ban will only apply to anglers. Duck hunters for example, who also use waders, will not be subject to the ruling.

Local angler advocacy groups were tacit on the issue.

Ricky Gease, executive director of the Kenai River Sport Fishing Association in Soldotna offered no comment on the ruling as did Dwight Kramer, chairman of the Kenai Area Fishermen's Coalition.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Will You Rise To The Challenge?

The Anglers Monitoring Initiative presents anglers with a fantastic opportunity to back up our claims about being the guardians and the eyes and ears of our waterways.
The initiative comes from The Riverfly Partnership, an organisation which enables anglers to take action that will help conserve the river environment. This initiative provides a simple monitoring technique which anglers can use to detect any severe problems in river water quality and puts them in direct communication with the Environment Agency.
This anglers monitoring scheme, used alongside routine monitoring by the Environment Agency, will ensure that water quality is checked more widely and action taken at the earliest opportunity should any severe problems be detected.

We have arranged the next Riverfly Training date for 22nd May. To date we only have four bookings out of a total of 12 vacancies. This concerns me greatly. I think it would be a terrible demonstration of angler apathy if we are not able to fill this course and have a healthy waiting list too.

The cost is £35 which includes training and all the equipment you'll need. Clubs should not even have to think twice about paying or should I say 'investing' in keen members to attend. If you are member of a fishing association or club on the river contact your committee to see if they will fund a place for you. As anglers we have a moral duty to rise to this challenge. If we do not I fear we may as well switch the lights of and go home as rarely has there been such a golden opportunity for anglers to monitor the resource they are so reliant on to provide their sport.

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to contribute towards an invaluable initiative...lets not squander it. If we do perhaps our claims regarding those eyes, ears and guardianship may just start to sound a little hollow?

Booking forms are available by contact Education Officer, Becky Helm:

Please..............Get Involved!

Monday, 10 May 2010

North Country Spiders

A week or so back I fished on a section of lower river with two good friends. Despite my best efforts I struggled to make contact with some very fussy wild trout. On return to the hut for lunch I enquired how my two fellow piscators had fared. Vaughan had struggled for two small browns on a dry fly and Tim had had fourteen...yes fourteen!..... to North Country Spiders.

Up until this point I had always discounted this style of fishing as a bit dated and traditional for my liking. After lunch I accompanied Tim down a through a fantastic boulder strewn run which had pocket water to die for. He on the spiders and me on the dry fly. Despite a good hatch and many rising fish I came away with one and Tim about half a dozen. I had seen enough.

On my return home I hastily looked up Tims patterns, A Water Hen Bloa and a Partridge and Orange. Materials were sourced (very precisely) from Steve Cooper at Cookshill Flytying and Phil Holding at Spiders Plus and I set to work tying-up a few of my own.

The patterns are simple and even someone with my agricultural tying skills soon had a few tied-up and ready to go. The trick is to dub the body very sparsely (with water rat substitute!) and not to overdo it on the hackle (two turns maximum!).

On Saturday I returned to the same beat of lower river and for the sake of scientific rigour, I fished the exactly those runs as I had with Tim. After what seemed like an age (5 mins!) I had a very positive take which resulted in a 'bonnie wildie' of about half a pound....and they kept coming too. I finished the afternoon with fourteen fish. I'm also encouraged to report I also caught a few sea trout smolts, which were as silvery as new Christmas decorations. One of the smolts was also intercepted by a very large brown trout, who let go when all didn't quite feel right!

There will be no prizes for guessing that I am now convert to this historic method of fishing. As Oliver Edwards puts it "anyone who fishes upstream North Country Spiders is helping to uphold a dying angling tradition" As I wandered back to the hut I pondered over a hundred and fifty years of spider tradition that in my eyes is as relevant today as it was when described by Pritt in his book North Country Flies, printed in 1886. That evening I raised a glass of something strong, golden brown and smokey to that great angler of the Eden, William Nelson who fished these very same methods, in the later part of the nineteenth century...I only hope he would have approved!

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

How Good Was The Eden?

Trout too numerous to count and salmon too heavy to lift are the wistful memories of anglers who have fished the beautiful River Eden in the past. Here at Eden Rivers Trust we are looking for any recollections about fishing on the River Eden for a new book on the history of the Eden. This will cover its fisheries, fishermen, great captures and the changing ecology and land use of the river.

If there is anyone out there with old diaries, articles, photos or club records specific to the Eden area, we would love to hear from you! We need as much information as possible to help us produce what we hope will turn out to be the definitive work on this iconic river.

Sadly fishing on the Eden is not now what it used to be, as we heard at a recent event called “How good was the River Eden” at the Tufton Arms Hotel, Appleby. Fifty local anglers, keepers, ghillies and land owners who have fished the Eden over the past 70 years were invited to share their recollections, memories and historical records about this special river; it's fish, flylife, habitat and fishing. Their contributions were fascinating.

Although we still have a great fishery, we have heard firsthand about the truly wonderful river the Eden once was. I tried to visualise the halcyon days of the 1950's and 60's when a good day’s dry fly fishing for trout was measured in the scores of fish with hatches of fly to die for. Some of the captures of salmon in the early part of the 20th century are the fishing days that we can only dream about today, with many beats recording several fish in the 30-50lb bracket each season!

Many of those present at the event have promised to hunt out historical records that will help us to build up a picture of how the Eden has changed over the decades. This ‘anecdotal’ information is seldom captured by organisations responsible for fisheries management and can be extremely important when setting objectives for the restoration of a fishery - especially if historical monitoring information on the fish populations is absent.

A summary of discussions at the “How good was the River Eden” event is available on the Eden Rivers Trust website It will be used to help guide the Trust’s conservation work on the Eden and its tributaries. This approach could form the basis of a blueprint for other Rivers Trusts and managers to use in their areas.

We can be contacted at Eden Rivers Trust, Unit’s O & Q, Skirsgill Business Park, Penrith, CA11 0FA, tel. no 01768 866788 or email

Photos: Robert Strong with 31lb salmon caught at Rickerby Park and Ron Mckillop with catch of trout, both pictures circa 1935. (Photos courtesy of Carlisle Angling Association)

Sunday, 18 April 2010

A good days fishing?

I have just returned from a 'Upper Eden Beat' that is slowly but surely shaking off the last of its winter blues.

Spring has finally arrived and that minus 16 degree winter is now a fading memory. This year, due to the cold weather, I think everything is a few weeks behind.

Even though the fishing was slow I had a wonderful two hours on the banks of the river.

I must admit I was somewhat distracted from my search for a rising fish by a breathtaking display of spring wildlife. Dippers, Oyster catchers, lapwings, curlew and water shrews all made guest appearances. However, the best was yet to come as I watched a flock of Sandmartins, some 500 strong, get to work on a mid-day hatch of olives. This was precision hunting at it's very best. The Red Arrows have nothing on these guys.... I watched in awe at the aerial manoeuvres of these recently arrived visitors as they gorged themselves after their amazing migration from Africa......they must have been very hungry!

However, all too soon I realised my 'pass out' from home had come to an end and I had hardly cast a line. Did I care?...not a jot. As I walked back to to the car I pondered on what it is that makes a good days fishing?
These days the fishing tackle marketing men tell us we need all the latest space age technologies and stealth bomber whizz bangs, designed to give us that 'edge'. Apparently this will bring us to a higher level of consciousness and technical know-how, which we are assured will lead to greater 'enjoyment'.

Perhaps then, we should remember that we also need something that is not mass produced in some anonymous far eastern factory, something that has been in 'product development' for just a little longer than this years must have rod. How does a few epochs sound?........well that's how long your local river (Version 1.0) has taken to perfect itself.

The next time you go fishing take 5 mins out to reflect on this, take in your surroundings, observe the wildlife that you are sharing the river with - I guarantee you will enjoy your day just that little bit more.

As someone once put it - fly fishing for wild trout is just too special to obsess about just catching fish.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Workshop Report

Last week saw 110 delegates and speakers converge upon the Tufton Arms at Appleby for our workshop 'Trout Stream Management in the Real World'.

And what a two days it turned-out to be! The speakers were all excellent and gave many thought provoking presentations on subjects as diverse at genetics, stocking, habitat restoration, fish passes and the impacts of climatic change. Question sessions proved to be very useful and our decision to allow lots of time for this proved to be a good one.

There was also plenty of time for delegates to network and already a number of possible collaborations are being developed. In partnership with ART and the S&TA there are a number of issues that we hope to follow-up using their 'lobbying networks'.

The evening event ' How Good Was Your River' also went very well. We had a round 25 local anglers and riparian owners turn-up and some of the information provided was fascinating. The output from the night will shortly appear on our website Many of those on the night have also promised to hunt out historical records that will help us build-up a picture of how the Eden has changed over the decades. If you have any information you think would be of interest please contact me at the ERT Offices.

Feedback after the workshop has been very positive and there does appear to be a real appetite for 'trouty' events. All agreed it would be great if we could run a follow-up workshop in three or so, years time.

The one thing that really stood out for me was the 'broad church' of attendees which included landowners, fishing associations, clubs and rivers trusts from north and south of the border. So often events of this nature are the preserve of professionals from large organisations and it made a refreshing change to buck the trend!

The workshop could not have taken place were it not for some very kind sponsors and funders who are listed below:

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Upland Habitat Manual

The 'English' launch of the manual took place at our Trout Stream Workshop on Tuesday this week. (Left to right) Vaughan Lewis (Windrush AEC), Heidi Stone (Environment Agency), Shaun Leonard (Wild Trout Trust) and myself (Eden Rivers Trust)

Following the successful track record of the Wild Trout Survival Guide and the Chalkstream Habitat Manual, the Upland Rivers Habitat Manual is aimed at fishing clubs, river keepers and riparian owners, helping them identify problems and finding solutions. It gives clear ‘DIY’ advice for local river improvement projects as well as the fundamental importance of land use and the need to work in partnership to address catchment wide issues.

Wild Trout Trust Director Shaun Leonard said ‘This guide is a fantastic, practical resource for clubs and owners. It is so important for grassroots organisations to feel they can address the problems of their local rivers at both a reach and a catchment scale. This guide is one way that the Wild Trout Trust can support and inspire local groups to take action. Wild trout, including sea trout, are a strong and visible indicator of the health of the river system and fishing clubs and owners have a tremendous opportunity – and responsibility – to look after them and the wider ecosystem’.

The Upland Rivers Manual was supported by the Environment Agency in England and Wales and the Welsh Assembly Government. The manual was produced by Vaughan Lewis of Windrush AEC with support from Dave Charlesworth (Environment Agency Wales), Martin Janes (River Restoration Centre), Alistair Maltby (Association of Rivers Trusts), Simon Johnson (Eden Rivers Trust) and Tim Jacklin (Wild Trout Trust).

The manual is in Portable Document Format (pdf) and will be available for free download from the Wild Trout Trust website ( from 1st April, and a high-resolution version is available on CD from the WTT on-line shop for £10 including P&P.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Under Starters Orders......

The trout fishing season starts on 15 March and the roving angler scheme for the Eden Valley - Go Wild in Eden - is back for 2010. Go Wild provides exclusive access to over 25 beats of wild brown trout and grayling fishing in beautiful surroundings.

As well as providing some very challenging fishing, Go Wild enables anglers to enjoy some of Cumbria’s most unspoiled scenery. As the beats are on private land, accessible only with permission from the landowner or through the Go Wild scheme, you can enjoy these hidden gems of the Cumbrian countryside away from the crowds.

Managed by the Eden Rivers Trust, Go Wild in Eden is now in its sixth year and has proved very popular with local and visiting anglers, as well as landowners, who kindly allow Go Wild anglers access to their land. The number of beats has more than doubled since it started!

Go Wild is an extremely important initiative as it creates a link between farming and fishing. Many of the beats incorporated into the scheme are a direct result of ERT’s important habitat restoration work. This creates a real ‘win:win situation, as not only does it create conditions for wild fish to thrive in , but it also provides farmers and landowners with a modest income from the fishing. This invaluable income can help to fund the future conservation management of the river.

For those with access to the internet, visit to see the fishing available, download beat maps and purchase tokens. Otherwise you can obtain these from Eden Rivers Trust on 01768 866788 or email Beat maps and tokens are also available from John Norris of Penrith (see very cool links) and Appleby and Carlisle Tourist Information Centres.

Tokens are available in books of 4 (£10) or 10 (£25) and beats vary in cost; from one to four tokens per beat.

The brown trout season runs from 15th March to 30th September and you can fish for grayling from the 16th June to the 14th March.

Anglers are reminded that all Go Wild Beats are operated on a 100% catch and release basis.

Don't forget about the many Angling Associations that offer some superb wild trout fishing throughout the whole length of the catchment - on an affordable day ticket basis. See the very cool links section on the right of this blog.

ERT wishes you all a 'Drag Free' season!

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

The Hitcher

I've just come off the phone with Ian Maclean of Orvis, who has been telling me about a new wading boot with an EcotraX soul.

Fascinating I hear you groan!

Well, actually I think this could be a very significant development in our fight against the spread of aquatic invasive species or AIS as they are known in the trade! Orvis have developed a soul which has been shown to reduce the risk of the transfer of these most unwelcome of hitchers......
From my previous blogs you will know that I am very concerned that we are under threat from numerous alien invaders such as Himalayan Balsam, Japanese Knotweed, Signal Crayfish and Gyrodactylus Salaris. We should do all we can do to reduce the risk of cross-contamination of these 'once they are here' species. As anglers we have a responsibility to ensure we do not become the vectors of contamination as do other groups like canoeists.

So I am going to go out on a limb and call for the end of felt souled waders in the UK - I feel that they could represent significant threat to the quality of our very special catchments.

There is well documented scientific proof that felt represents a special problem in wading boots. Although many boot parts are capable of trapping and carrying AIS, the difficulties of disinfecting felt make it very different from the rest of the boot parts. While the elimination of any boot part that could trap or transport AIS is beneficial and should be encouraged, the move to eliminate felt is a prudent and appropriate response to the threat it poses.

For once I hope we would not have to do this by legislation and I would hope that the tackle industry can take the lead by simply phasing out felt. Companies like Orvis and Simms are leading the charge on this.

In New Zealand they have banned felt souls to stop the spread of the highly invasive dydimo algae.

Some anglers have questioned this approach.

However, the move to eliminate felt is based on conclusive scientific proof that it represents a special threat. Companies, organisations and agencies are all starting to accept this and the move away from felt will continue to grow. Anglers may not like the change and some will be vocal in their opposition. However, we should all make sure that any argument is based on sound science. The science shows that felt is a special problem and anyone disputing that has nothing to back their claims.

Finally, we must realise that felt is only one part of the problem. There are many other places where invasives can be trapped and transported in our boots and other gear. We must adopt new habits that include careful cleaning after each use. While switching to felt-free waders is a good thing, it is just one step in the process of becoming a clean angler. Any one of us could be the person to carry an invader to a new water and none of us wants to be that person. Inspect, Clean and Dry your gear after each use and you will help to protect the resource that we all depend upon.

Lastly have a look at this video on the Orvis website -

I think it's a great example of a company with a sense of it's environmental responsibilities...they are to be congratulated!

Monday, 15 February 2010


I fished the 'Middle Eden' for a quick couple of hours on Saturday. The river was looking good and it wasn't too cold. Rather than fish my normal spots I decided to have a look around - after struggling I eventually came across a long slow pool of about chest height...that just screamed grayling. The flow was just pushing through nicely to allow me to bump through a ' duo rig' with the heavy nymph (4.2mm Tungsten) on the dropper. I remember saying to myself if there isn't a grayling in this pool ...I'll give up...just at the precise moment when that, oh so satisfying, pull happened. After a short tussle and stunning 15inch+ grayling was caught and released (barbless makes this very easy). "This is it" I said to myself "it will be like shelling peas".........and that's as far as my theory went.....nothing else started to rain and I went home to a cold beer and a warm fire!

However, I really enjoyed my snatched couple of hours beside the Eden - I was privileged enough to see oyster catchers, snipe and widgeon and of all I had the place to myself. For those brief two hours, I cleared my mind of the pressures of everyday life and thought about nothing else other than just 'going fishing'. I'd recommend it to anyone.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

So........Just How Good Was The Petteril?

ERT hosted a very special evening last night. We invited around a dozen guests who have fished the Petteril since the Mid-1950's to come and tell us about experiences on this special trout stream.

During the evening we learnt first hand about the truly wonderful river the Petteril once was. I tried to visualise the halcyon days in the 1950's and 60's when a good days dry fly fishing was measured in the scores of fish, across a range of sizes. Even the early season fishing could be very good. One angler Terry Cousins used to fish the river every opening day...dry fly only,with his best pal. They must have been special times. Another fisher Stuart Kinnear described in detail the hatches of flies, which would have given many a southern chalk stream a run for its money. The fishing was highly prized and some of it controlled by the Brakenbrough estate was only available to around a dozen very lucky anglers. But the river was not just the preserve of the privileged few and the fishers of Carlisle had access to some very good quality fishing all the way down to the confluence with the Eden.

Pollution was always a spectre waiting to take it's toll, often involving oil from various sources. However the worst was to come in 1968 when a road tanker containing phenol overturned. Then then fire brigade hosed down the completed load into a beck feeding the Petteril. The result was catastrophic and it would be an event that the river would never recover must have been heart breaking. About this time several infrastructure improvements were taking place (M6 / West Coast Mainline) run-off from these sources contained all manner of nasties. Post-war agriculture was also picking up pace with pollution incidents involving silage and slurry becoming all too common.

In short we had a river that had a suffered a severe body blow through the tanker pollution and every time it tried to recover it would receive another knock out punch through various point source and diffuse pollution incidents.

The river had hit rock bottom and to many the river wasn't worth the effort.

But nature is resilient and slowly but surely trout have gained a toehold back in the river. However this should not be interpreted as a recovery - it's too early for bold statements like that. But we do appear to be witnessing a fragile improvement of some sorts. Anglers are reporting catching adult trout and last year observing good numbers of fry and parr, where once they were absent. To a certain extent this has be observed in our fisheries surveys......but it is way to early to draw any conclusions and we are only one step away from yet another pollution body blow. However things are different this time with the commencement of our Petteril Project and the appointment of our very capable officer Alison Reed. The other exciting development is that last summer we found salmon fry and parr in our electric fishing surveys in the Wreay Woods area.......something that when I first arrived in the job I was told the river has never had and would never support!

So things are getting interesting on the dear old Petteril...a river I am becoming very fond of (I love the underdog) With efforts underway to improve the river through our Petteril Project we are better placed than we have been in many years to try and reverse the fortunes of this once termed 'Jewel in the crown of the Eden'

Terry Cousins came back into our office today to share some more of the entries in his fishing diaries with us. I felt very honored that Terry would choose to share this very personal information with us. What really touched me was that Terry said he had once wept over the state of the river.....I suddenly felt a very real sense of responsibility to the Petteril and it's fishermen. We must make every effort not to let anglers like Terry and Stuart down.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Workshop Update

The planning of our workshop 'Trout Stream Management in the Real World' is coming along very well indeed and we have now confirmed a fantastic line-up of speakers. Hopefully we will be to share new knowledge and exchange information with delegates. In our own small way we may also be able to facilitate a wider process of knowledge transfer to help all those involved in managing our precious wild trout fisheries. Often through a lack of accessible information, fisheries managers (professional and voluntary) can make decisions and adopt practices that can potentially cause wide-ranging and long-term damage to the very resource they are trying to improve. I hope this workshop may challenge some of the traditional thinking and myths surrounding the age old question of 'how do we improve the fishing? ........ hopefully we'll avoid the kind of decision making process these two guys are going through in the cartoon!

See our website for the full listing and on-line booking details.

If you are involved with the management of trout in rivers and streams, habitat restoration or catchment management then this event is really for you! This is not just aimed at professionals and academics but for all of you out there involved in the 'muck and bullets' of trout stream management. We particularly hope that representatives of fishing clubs that are interested in sustainably managing their fisheries will be able to attend. To encourage this we are also able to offer a limited number of funded delegate places for clubs, associations and small charitable trusts. This has been made possible through the generous financial support of APEM Ltd, Institute of Fisheries Management, Environment Agency and Wild Trout Trust. The STREAMS Project, of which the workshop is an output, is funded by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, for which we are most grateful.

We look forward to seeing you in March!

Friday, 8 January 2010

Minus Sixteen!

That's what it said on my temperature gauge in the car this morning as I left home. This is really beginning to have an effect on the rivers in the catchment. In many places the Upper Eden is two thirds frozen and some of the minor tribs like the Lyvennet and Lieth are bank to bank ice...... I really didn't think I would ever witness scenes like this on a UK river. I have seen pictures of lower river beats with large sheets of ice moving slowly through them, in scenes more akin to what you'd expect on a central European river. We have now had snow on the ground for 3 weeks.

Summer dry fly fishing the evening rise seems an awful long way away!

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Trout Steam Management in the Real World

We are now busy planning the STREAM Conference, titled - Trout Stream Management in the Real World. The main purpose of the event is to fill the room with fisheries managers, fishing clubs, rivers trusts and those involved with grass roots wild trout management - and give them an inspirational two days of talks, presentations and networking opportunities.

We are putting together a very exciting list of speakers (soon to be announced) and I really feel we will be staging a very interesting event. This is most definitely not a theoretical workshop - it will have practical benefits to all of those of you out there in the 'muck and bullets' of stream and river management.

The event is being co-ordinated by Eden Rivers Trust, The Wild Trout Trust and Association of Rivers Trusts, with financial support from The Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, Wild Trout Trust and Natural England (others tbc).

We have kept costs to a bear minimum and attendance is priced at a very reasonable £50 for both days (excluding accom and evening meal). On the first evening we will also be holding an event called - How Good Was Your River? - Local anglers who have fished then Eden over the past 50+ years will be invited to share their recollections, memories and historical records about this special river; it's fish, flylife, habitat and fishing. This ‘anecdotal’ information is seldom captured by organisations responsible for fisheries management and can extremely important when setting objectives for the restoration of a fishery - especially if historical fisheries monitoring data is absent. The output of the evening will be synthesised into a summary record which will be used to help guide ERT’s conservation work in the catchment. This approach could form the basis of a blueprint for other rivers trusts and managers to use on their catchments.

The venue for the event is the famous fishing hotel, the Tufton Arms in Appleby - and the highlight on the evening meal menu is Mrs Ewbanks Cumberland Sausages - which in my opinion are the best bangers on the planet!

Finally there is also an opportunity to sample some of the very fine early season trout fishing the Eden can provide...that is if this snow ever disappears! This can be through some of the wonderful day ticket fishing association waters or our very own Go Wild scheme.

More information can be found on our website, where you can also book on-line: